(Oct. 10, 2012)
Tulsa Zoo’s tiger cub, Berani (pronounced burr-rani), set off on his big adventure to the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium on October 10, 2012. This endangered Malayan tiger cub was born to first time mother, Jin, and father, Gahara, on August 26, 2012.
Berani weighed in at 2.6 pounds, a healthy birth weight for a newborn tiger. The cub’s mother, Jin, cared for him for the first 24 hours, but then lost interest. It is not unusual for first time mother tigresses to neglect their cubs, although they will often successfully raise subsequent litters. The Tulsa Zoo’s veterinary staff was prepared to intervene if Jin showed signs of neglect for her cub and they monitored the birth and behavior via remote cameras. When Jin left the nest box and did not return for several hours, the veterinary staff examined the cub. Based on the exam and blood work, the decision was made to remove the cub from its mother at 36 hours of age to ensure he would receive proper care and nutrition. The veterinary staff then began the process of hand-rearing.
Even though Berani was thriving in the care of the Tulsa Zoo’s veterinarians, he did not have a sibling with which to play and learn to be a tiger. After Berani’s birth, the Tulsa Zoo learned that a single male Sumatran tiger cub, Dumai, was born four days before Berani at the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium in Tacoma, Washington. This cub was also being hand-reared because he was not receiving adequate nutrition from his mother. In conjunction with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Plan, the Tulsa Zoo coordinated a plan to pair Berani with Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium’s tiger cub to ensure that both cubs had a better chance of developing normal socialization skills together.
“It is important, whenever possible, for an animal like Berani to be raised with members of his own species,” said Dr. Kay Backues, Tulsa Zoo Senior Staff Veterinarian. “With another tiger playmate of similar age, he will grow up to be better socialized and behave in an appropriate way with humans and tigers.”
Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium’s new exhibit, Cats of the Canopy, which opened in 2011, is equipped with more holding space than the Tulsa Zoo. The decision was therefore made to send Berani to the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium, where Berani and Dumai are being raised in the cub nursery. The cubs will eventually be moved to the day room in the Asian Sanctuary.
The Tulsa Zoo plans to open a new exhibit for tigers as part of the zoo’s 20-year Master Plan. Slated to open in 2015, the Lost Kingdom exhibit will feature an immersive setting, where guests can roam ancient Asian ruins and experience up-close encounters with tigers, snow leopards, Komodo dragons and other species. The holding areas of the exhibit will be increased, allowing the Tulsa Zoo the opportunity to accommodate cubs such as Berani in the future. The Helmerich Foundation has generously pledged a lead gift to secure naming rights for the new Helmerich Lost Kingdom Tiger habitat in this exhibit complex. The Tulsa Zoo is currently fundraising for the rest of the funds needed to complete this $16 million exhibit and plans to break ground in 2013.
Berani was born in conjunction with the SSP, or the Species Survival Plan, which manages breeding among highly endangered species in AZA accredited zoos across the nation. Currently, there fewer than 500 Malayan tigers left in the wild due to habitat loss and poaching and only 55 in AZA accredited zoos in North America, making this birth a success for not only the Tulsa Zoo, but also for diminishing tiger populations around the world.
To stay updated on Berani, click here
To view videos of Berani from Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium, click here